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By Rich Cline | December 23, 2002

This Belgian award winner is so warm and touching it hurts. Pauline (van der Groen, who is apparetly one of Belgium’s national treasures) is a simple-minded woman. One of four sisters, she lives with eldest sister Martha (De Bruyn), and every day pops into town to see her favourite sister Paulette (Petersen) in her colourful fabric shop. Then Martha dies, and her will insists that Pauline must live with either Paulette or the youngest sister Cecile (Bergmans), who lives in Brussels with her boyfriend (Stephane). Well, Pauline and Cecile each have their own lives, so a struggle is afoot. But it’s clear where Pauline would rather be.
This is a sugary story in which yet another fine actor plays a mentally disabled character to much acclaim … even though the story is formulaic and the performance itself is rather mannered and mechanic. You know a major change of heart is coming for Paulette long before it happens. So where’s the interest in watching? Despite the unsubtle acting though, the characters are endearing enough to stick with for 80 minutes. Even if there are no new themes in the film … or anything else we haven’t seen many times before. Yes, it’s preachy about selfishness and family connections. And the musical score is annoying in that respect too. The film is also fairly relentless in its attempts to find comedy in embarrassment, which in this case is rather offensive. Cute and sweet, but honestly: yuck.

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